YouTube Wants To Replace Fred With Hollywood A-List Talent

Jan 29th, 2009 | By | Category: Internet TV, Streaming Video, Video

The New York Times reports that YouTube is working with Hollywood talent agency William Morris on a deal that would place the company’s clients into made-for-the-Web productions:

The deal would underscore the ways that distribution models are evolving on the Internet. Already, some actors and other celebrities are creating their own content for the Web, bypassing the often arduous process of developing a program for a television network. The YouTube deal would give William Morris clients an ownership stake in the videos they create for the Web site.

Two people close to the talks, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized by their companies to speak publicly about the deal, described the arrangement as YouTube’s most sweeping attempt to date to add professionally produced videos to its Web site, which mostly features amateur videos uploaded by users. The people cautioned that the deal had not been completed. Representatives for YouTube and William Morris declined to comment Wednesday evening.

The agency represents a number of prominent clients, like the actors Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe and the producers J. J. Abrams and Michael Bay.

Key points:

  • Hollywood sees YouTube as direct competition, forcing YouTube to go straight to star talent;
  • If YouTube can make this work, it will cut many of the people in Hollywood out of the picture;
  • This will put the squeeze on smaller video destinations, like Will Farrel’s Funny Or Die!
  • Fred’s going to get some serious competition.

While YouTube has to explore all options in order to become profitable, this move is likely to bury user-generated content.

Will this be the death of YouTube as we know it?  Or do you think that people will still be able to rise to fame from their bedroom?

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No Responses to “YouTube Wants To Replace Fred With Hollywood A-List Talent”

  1. Bill Grady says:

    It’s the same thing that we saw with audio, i.e. podcasting on iTunes. The original podcasts that appeared on iTunes were independently produced by the little guy and hailed by Steve Jobs. Then the broadcasting networks jumped in and pushed the vast majority of the independent producers right off the list. When it comes to YouTube, it shows how Hollywood has shifted their previous “nose in the air – I can’t believe people will watch that” to a “me too” attitude. Will star power pull away some viewers? Possibly….but the stars have had videos on their own sites for some time. It’s the “used to be famous but can’t get on a reality TV show” that may benefit the most because they won’t have to walk past the gatekeepers to be seen.

  2. Lost Fan says:

    You mention JJ Abrams – I’d be really interested in seeing what he would do with Internet video.

  3. Rob Greenlee says:

    YouTube must be careful not to alienate the very people that built it into a massive success. The site name is YouTube, not Major Media Tube. I do think that they can make it work, but must strike a balance if they want it to succeed as it is very much against the YouTube brand and what it means to most people. I think these productions need to be in the same genre of video that is typically a success on the site. I think it would be a mistake to make it like Hulu in the long-run. Rob Greenlee

  4. […] See the original post: bYouTube/b Wants To Replace Fred With Hollywood A-List Talent b…/b […]

  5. Ed Roberts says:

    Will it bury indie content? Not likely. Think of the last time you went to YouTube… actually, most of the times you’ve visited YouTube. How often have you visited the front page and looked for content there? Not very often. You’re most likely to go to the site when directed to a video from a friend.

  6. fred_lover says:


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